Or did traditional media take too much time in the news-gathering process? Because if you were waiting for the day when you could finally start writing that case study titled, “The Day New Media Made Old Media Look Slow and Decrepit,” it would have been the day Michael Jackson died.

While news of the King of Pop’s passing originated on celebrity gossip site TMZ.com and spread like wildfire on Twitter, CNN was reporting only that Jackson had been rushed to the hospital.

Even though CNN, understandably, did not want to report on the death until their sources confirmed the story – especially after the Steve Jobs/iReport debacle last year — they came away looking slow and behind-the-times.

Meanwhile, most outlets (including the local sports talk station I was listening to on my way home from work) were citing TMZ.com.

You can chalk it up to luck, or a case of not having a reputation to uphold, but TMZ was the clear winner.  It wasn’t until nearly two hours after the first reports of Jackson’s death surfaced that CNN finally called it.

But at that point, they were regurgitating what was already known rather than breaking news.

It begs the question: Does new media stand for speed and traditional media equate to accuracy?

As an aside, the contrast between the two anchors reporting the news – Dax Holt on TMZ and Wolf Blitzer on CNN – was almost laughable if it weren’t such an accurate representation of new and old media colliding.  By all accounts, Blitzer is an accomplished and accurate reporter of news, but his presence on the air as the story developed only served to reinforce the image of old media, albeit unintentionally.

Score one for new media.

— Brad Marley

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